Streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B is an extracellular cysteine protease. Only nephritis-associated strains of group A streptococci secrete this protease and this may be involved in the pathogenesis of post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. Mice were actively immunized with a recombinant protease inactive exotoxin B mutant or passively immunized with exotoxin B antibody. Characteristics of glomerulonephritis were measured using histology, immunoglobulin deposition, complement activation, cell infiltration, and proteinuria. None of the mice given bovine serum albumin or exotoxin A as controls showed any marked changes. Immunoglobulin deposition, complement activation, and leukocyte infiltration occurred only in the glomeruli of exotoxin B-hyperimmunized mice. One particular anti-exotoxin B monoclonal antibody, 10G, was cross-reactive with kidney endothelial cells and it caused kidney injury and proteinuria when infused into mice. This cross-reactivity may be involved in the pathogenesis of glomerulonephritis following group A streptococcal infection.
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